Poverty chic

One of the weirdest trends is where people pay enormous amounts of money for clothes items that look well-worn or are discards. We know that people are willing to pay more for so-called ‘distressed’ jeans that have holes in the knees to suggest that they are well worn when in fact the holes are created by the manufacturer. Rusty Blazenhoff writes about a more extreme example of this, where an Italian luxury brand company named Golden Goose charges $530 for a pair of sneakers that are worn down and held together by tape.

TThis is an example of ‘poverty chic’, something that rich people indulge in. It is well known that people who are struggling financially or are poor are the ones who try to dress as well as they can, to hide that fact from casual acquaintances. It is people who are rich who can afford to adopt the scruffy look because everyone knows they are rich. If anyone does mistake them for being poor, it is a source of humor to them. It is a form of condescension, a way of saying, “Look at me. I am so rich that I can dress like this.”


  1. jrkrideau says

    I just had the sole of one of my cycling shoes come lose and they are, overall, rather ratty looking. I wonder what I could get on kajiji for them?

  2. Mano Singham says

    If you market them as ‘artisanal’ ratty shoes (another fad) as opposed to mass produced ones, you should be able to get more than $530.

  3. ridana says

    This reminds me of those videos of rich teens buying top-end electronics, and just trashing them on camera in a rub-your-nose-in-it way while mocking people who can’t afford them. Because they could, since their parents would just give them money for new stuff. smh

  4. says

    Sadly, this is not a new trend. I remember in the 80s when I was in high school, and many of the kids from wealthier families were paying exorbitant sums to mimic the Flash Dance look of worn out, ripped sweat clothes.

  5. mnb0 says

    As so often it’s more complicated.

    “so-called ‘distressed’ jeans that have holes in the knees”
    They are popular in Suriname as well -- and that’s not a particularly rich country.

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